Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Film Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Waited a week or so to post my review of this film to let it settle.

I have no problem with violence of many kinds portrayed on film.  I'm a big fan of Tarantino, Peckinpah, and others who include large amounts of blood and brutality in their films.

I do have one exception to this however and it revolves around sexually related violence.  I simply cannot watch any film that portrays rape or sexual violence without getting severe distaste for the film rising in my gut.  From something like Shawshank Redemption to Straw Dogs, I have a very hard time dealing with films that contain scenes like these despite my knowledge that they are staged.  It disturbs something in me at a very core level that I can't quite grasp but know I should be able to.

So we have a similar situation here with The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.  The primary female character in the film, Lisbeth Salander, is brutally raped by her financial caretaker in one of the most distasteful scenes I've watched.  I'll put it right up there with Straw Dogs and Vengance is Mine for its ability to make me feel ill and remain stuck in my head for days twisting its way around over and over, hoping for it to go away.

The redeeming factor in this film is that Salander exacts her revenge upon her tormentor at a later point in the film and her abuse acts as a specific driver of her formation as a person and influences her interactions with the world around her in very profound and visible ways.  She simply wouldn't be the character she is without this occurrence in her life.  So the inclusion of the rape in the arc of the story is logical and though distasteful, understandable.

So it is that I can still look upon this film for the quality work it is.  David Fincher has once again put together a unique and dark creation that puts him near the head of current Americn filmmakers.  With Seven, Alien 3, The Strange Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room and Zodiac under his belt in addition to this film, Fincher has a superb resume at this point in his career.  No Fincher film looks like anyone else's and I look forward to his future works.  The location of this film in Sweden gives it a unique look with excellent looking backgrounds and architecture that really fits with the story.  You know you are not looking at a Hollywood backlot.

The story winds its way nicely as the mystery around a girl who went missing many decades ago is slowly unraveled with the ending twist a bit of a letdown but certainly not given away too early.

The film itself has some weak plot points that can be picked at and logic is not Daniel Craigs character's strong point but his acting as well as that of Rooney Mara are excellent as is the direction and of course, score by Trent Reznor.  Not having seen the Swedish version of this film, nor read the book, I can't compare it to those, but for me, on a stand alone basis this one stands out as one of the better films of 2011, securely in the middle of Fincher's list of works--though not exactly one of his more enjoyable films.

No comments: